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JulieH

1/2 South Midlands FA

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JulieH

I have just typed up my grandfathers diary. He was in “C” section 1st/2nd SMFA. His diary ended upruptly in January 1916 but at that time he was moving between Hebuterne & Sailley. My grandfather was Walter Joseph Church. He was a stretcher bearer & was awarded the MM later at Passchendaele, where he was injured but survived the war. My trial then goes cold. I suspect he did not go with his unit to Italy but was still in uniformed & did not demobilise if that’s the correct term unto March 1919. Would appreciate any information on his unit

D00E0E4A-F856-4AF5-87CE-A926B89E98FE.jpeg

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clk

Hi JulieH,

 

Like you, I think that in the absence of any records it's difficult to say where Walter served after he recovered from his leg wound. If it took more than a relatively short period of time, I would guess that he was transferred to another RAMC unit. His medal roll records indicate that he arrived in theatre on 17.7.1915. The 1/2 SMFA arrived earlier (diary at the National Archives here, Ancestry here), so it seems that he was a reinforcement. 

 

I think that his mate that died was probably this chap - CWGC, papers.

 

Regards

Chris

 

 

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JulieH

Thanks so much for your reply. You are absolutely right the other stretcher bearer was almost certainly Private Taylor. I hope to visit his grave when I go to Ypres in November. Here is a photo of my grandfather at his brothers Harold’s wedding & one of him presumably at a convalescent hospital of some sort as I think he is wearing hospital uniform under his heavy coat. He is on the right of the photo & I have wondered if the other comrade might be Private Fearne who was also injured when the shell hit them. I know they were both sent off to the casualty clearing station. I notice my grandfather is wearing a glove & I know he injured his thigh & his arm. My great wish is to find out the identity of the wounded man he carried back. I think I shall never know along with a host of other questions which I wish I had asked him but he probably would not have wanted to talk about it anyway. Thanks for your interest 

6F2A9AD7-196F-47CF-B126-06C56A58A6B0.jpeg

EF564587-C23F-4A33-B8CD-412791B4ADFD.jpeg

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LeeP

Hi, I wonder if you can help me out, I think that my great grandfather Charles Pratt was one of the other three men who undertook this brave act with your grandfather. He  was with 1/2nd South Midland Field Ambulance and was awarded the Military Medal around this time.

I wonder whether his name may have cropped up in your researches?

Many thanks

Lee

Edited by LeeP

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clk

Hi Lee,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

The war diary for the 1/2 South Midland Field Ambulance on 9th October 1917 shows...

image.png.e689fa83168963c3c19abd64b1ea8d57.png

Image sourced from Ancestry

 

13 hours ago, LeeP said:

I think that my great grandfather Charles Pratt was one of the other three men who undertook this brave act with your grandfather. He  was with 1/2nd South Midland Field Ambulance and was awarded the Military Medal around this time.

 

Whilst your great grandfather isn't mentioned in the diary as having been sent wounded to a Casualty Clearing Station on that day, I think that the consecutive schedule numbers shown on the MM index cards for Fearn, Church, and him, add some weight to your thoughts.

 

image.png.306bf015a59add95aa59d79c8f267efa.png

 

image.png.924cab1c065a76a5cf6ca01bc6ea9f56.png

 

image.png.a7c61dfda0457b6781fa383bd27f68a9.png

Images sourced from Findmypast

 

Regards

Chris

 

@JulieH

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LeeP

Many thanks Chris that's very helpful. I suspect that he won his MM for something different and that perhaps these awards once confirmed were  batched  and reported on together

Lee

Edited by LeeP

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LeeP

Hi,
It would appear that my grandfather earnt his medal at a different time to his brave comrades mentioned previously.


According to the Birmingham Mail on 10th November 1917, he was wounded on 21st August (1916) and was recommended for distinguished service.

The medal index card shared by Chris states 28th January 1917 for publication in the gazette (London, I believe).


Any suggestions as to where I can attempt to discover what actions actually led to the recommendation of the Military Medal would be appreciated
Thanks
Lee

Screenshot_20200212_230150.jpg

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clk

Hi Lee,

 

18 hours ago, LeeP said:

According to the Birmingham Mail on 10th November 1917, he was wounded on 21st August (1916)

 

Where the newspaper article says "He was wounded on August 21", I think that it is talking about 1917. The unit war diary (Ancestry link) for that date shows...

 

image.png.494b73afac370b25804c2e9d8c38784d.png

Image sourced from Ancestry

 

Allowing for the time delay of several weeks between the date of actual wounding, and the date of a published War Office Casualty List, his name appears on this list - NLS link

 

Where the newspapers says that he "...was given a card by the General Officer Commanding the division...", I think that it may have been this kind of thing...

Image result for ww1 gallantry card

Image sourced from Surrey in the Great War

 

These types of cards were often issued to men as a recognition of their actions, where a medal was not issued for those actions - a kind of 'well done, but...'. My guess would be that his name may have been put forward for consideration of an award of the MM for his actions on 21.8.1917, but he didn't get it for that. 

 

18 hours ago, LeeP said:

The medal index card shared by Chris states 28th January 1917 for publication in the gazette (London, I believe).

 

His name appears in the 'Supplement to the London Gazette, 28 January 1918' (LG link) - as do those of Fearn and Church. Given that the MM index cards have the same 'Registered Paper' reference (68/121/377), and sequential schedule numbers (134356, 134357, and 134358) for me implies that all three men were put forward/accepted for the MM award very close together. Taking the newspaper report relating to Church on face value, and that he was awarded his MM for his actions on 9.10.1917 and that Fearn is also referenced in the unit war diary on the same date, I don't think that it is a huge leap of faith that he (Fearn) was one of the four men that volunteered to go forward to recover the wounded man. Seemingly the third man (that was killed) was probably Taylor. That leaves the outstanding question of who the fourth man was? According to the newspaper report relating to Church his MM was based on the recommendation of the "officer in charge". It doesn't seem outrageous to think that Fearn was 'batched' in the same recommendation (which then flowed through the approval system), and that Charles was also included in the same recommendation. In the absence of further records though, we can't be certain.

 

The medal roll records for Charles appear to show him as (Ancestry link)…

 

image.png.435f101edb38f1d7950e5f7d71d4e76a.png

 

image.png.69344cc9c5233cb715d623450a38f183.png

 

 

image.png.2d0ac1dfbfe491f9b2576f8daa5732aa.png

                                                                                                                                       image.png.424457649e1b6a803abbea92f4a445ca.png

                                                                                                                                                                    image.png.a0126a065b4c2113339c884c8d7aa08c.png

image.png.77930960864e1bbfd0c877d930636c47.png

Images sourced from Ancestry

 

He seems to have served with two service numbers (2328 and 437359). That is because he was a Territorial Force soldier, and the TF were renumbered in 1917 - the number block 437001 to 439000 was allocated to the line units of the 2nd South Midland Field Ambulance (see the LLT here). Generally men were renumbered to their new 6 digit numbers (allowing for 'fall outs') based sequentially on their previous (often 4 digit) unit numbers. What that means is that if a man doesn't have surviving service papers you can often make a reasonable inference from near number men that do. I haven't done the exercise thoroughly, but based on (a dangerous) limited sample of just one, 2347/437368 Fell appears to have served from February 1915.

 

Given his overseas disembarkment date (in active theatre of '1' - France) of 24.3.1915, it would appear that Charles went overseas with his unit, rather than arriving as a reinforcement (LLT here). On Ancestry the war diary for March 1915 - October 1917 starts here, but you would have to download a page at a time. From the National Archives you could get it in a one chunk download for £3.50 - link. The diary doesn't though show what they were up to, so for more context it might be worth looking at the diary for the Assistant Director Medical Services, 48 Division (I haven't looked). The National Archives search page is here, and the Ancestry page here

 

Regards

Chris

 

 

 

 

Edited by clk

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LeeP

Hi Chris

Thank you so much for looking this up and sharing with me it is helping me to compile a meaningful timeline of events.

 

Here is perhaps part of the reason as to how I became confused over the correct year.

 

The medal award card shared by you states 28th January 1918, this is quite obviously indisputable. However, I had found information from the Imperial War Museum archive which I now conclude seems to have been transcribed incorrectly as 28th January 1917, hence I assumed the reference to August last in the newspaper article of Nov 1917 meant August 1916.

 

Once again many thanks for your efforts which are greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks
Lee

Screenshot_20200212_212125.jpg

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clk

Hi Lee,

 

From the A&Q 48 Division diary (Ancestry link)...

image.png.81edbf112ce059aeeb34833401568382.png

 

image.png.4d151a42c117996bb86da11280b184db.png

 

image.png.c32e19988838077d6e9f8baab1969580.png

Images sourced from Ancestry

 

Interestingly all three men aren't grouped together on that list.

 

Regards

Chris

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LeeP

Thanks Chris,

 

I must admit I'm not sure what to make if it all other than the fact that he was awarded the MM.

 

Perhaps it will not be possible to pinpoint exactly what he did and when to earn it.

 

I wonder whether his individual service records may be at Kew, I know a lot of them were destroyed but that must be my next port of call just in case.

 

Once again many thanks

 

Lee

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clk

Hi Lee,

 

5 hours ago, LeeP said:

I wonder whether his individual service records may be at Kew, I know a lot of them were destroyed but that must be my next port of call just in case.

 

I fear not. Those that survived the fire/water damage are available on Findmypast and Ancestry. Unfortunately when I looked, I didn't see one for Charles.

 

Regards

Chris

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LeeP
1 minute ago, clk said:

Hi Lee,

 

 

I fear not. Those that survived the fire/water damage are available on Findmypast and Ancestry. Unfortunately when I looked, I didn't see one for Charles.

 

Regards

Chris

I shall have to be content with what I have

 

Thanks again

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